Thomson and the consequential members of the Group… tried to subdue the
space not just in front but behind their heads. Theirs was not to be a
replication made simply through a jellied lens set in the skull, but an
apprehension of sound and odour coming from the nerve endings.
On the surface, just looking at his work, Beckett might seem to be another abstract painter with an expressionist bent; that is, he seems driven by a combination of existential angst and formalist repose. He writes about painting as a process, not an end, as a means of getting beyond the ego, losing self-consciousness. After Abstract Expressionism’s halcyon days in the 1940s and 50s I think this sort of rationale has actually had the opposite effect, making much gestural abstraction appear more like celebrations of subjectivity and individual consciousness than either’s negation. Anyway, the drips and broad brushstrokes, the traditional hallmarks of unchained individualism, creativity, spiritual becoming, and emotional wrenching, appear throughout Beckett’s painting. Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, early Philip Guston, and especially Franz Klein are all here, along with admittedly cooler moments reminiscent of Larry Poons and Ross Bleckner. Beckett’s surfaces bear the bold signs of mid-20th century abstraction – push/pull, edge, field, movement, flatness/depth – and thus, on their own, appear to be resolutely self-referential and introspective.
I see nature with its fabulous structures and infinite complexity as a source of
my sense of visual order. The paintings reflect something of nature’s own
diversity in their colour, shapes and textures. However, there is an attempt to
create more than a visual record; to include such things as the smell of the
woods or the sound of the rain.